Hall of Famer Ernie Banks coined the phrase "Let's play two". In Storrs Friday evening, it wasn't baseball though, but a men's and women's soccer twin bill at Joseph J Morrone Stadium. In the twi-night opener it was the women recording their third straight win and their third straight shutout of the young season. Despite a dominating offensive performance, the Huskies (3-2-0) were only able to muster a single goal en route to a 1-0 win over the visiting Black Bears of Maine (3-1-0). In the nightcap the third ranked (NSCAA) men knocked off New England rival Boston University, 1-0, before a crowd of 4,243 on a chilly September evening.
On a roll
Len Tsantiris' club eclipsed the .500 mark for the first time this season after opening the season with back to back losses to national powers Wisconsin (#23) and Stanford (#4). With the win Emily Armstrong posted her third straight shutout behind a strong defense and an offense that has been clicking of late. UConn kept the pressure on the Black Bear defense and goalie Lauren Swant in particular all evening.
Said Armstrong, “The fact that this is our third shutout is really exciting because this team is continuously moving forward. A few times we had a few scares, but my defenders stood really well to cover and drop back, so it just proves how much of a team effort this is.”
Life of Riley
The first half may have been all UConn, with the Huskies posting a dominating 12-0 shots on goal, but after 45 minutes the score only read 1-0. Windham High School graduate Riley Houle (7 pts, 3 goals) had a terrific first half, continually putting pressure on the Black Bear defense netting the only goal in the 10th minute of play. Seven different Huskies accounted for the shots on goal tally, with Houle accounting for three of those, but tough luck and couple of outstanding saves by Swant kept the game close.
Houle, a junior, has clearly become a more polished player saying, “It’s definitely to do with the new position. Playing up top I have more freedom. I always played forward growing up, so that’s what I’m used to. I’m able to attack and take people on and that’s what I like to do.”
Maine's first shot on goal came about seven minutes into the second half and it was almost a game changer. Black Bear forward Eve L'Abbe found herself behind the UConn defense 10 yards out with a chance to tie. but her chip hit the cross bar before going up and over the goal keeping the shut out intact. It would be the best opportunity Maine (3-1-0) would have as UConn’s stingy defense and offensive attack kept the Bears on the defensive for the remainder of the game.
Said Houle, “Three wins in a row isn’t what we’ve been doing the last couple of years, even though we’re capable of doing it, so I think its bringing our confidence up” and added, “People are fitting into their roles and the maturity of our team is getting better.”
UConn finished with a 23-2 shots on goal edge.
Huskies nip Terriers
After a slow start which saw the Boston University Terriers (0-2-0) come out on the offensive, UConn’s defense bought time for the offense which found its groove midway through the first. The only goal of the game came in the 41st minute of play when Mamadou Doudou Diouf found junior transfer Edir DaCraca who put a great move on a Terrier defender along the end line, drilling the goal before Boston University goalie Matt Gilbert could recover.
On scoring his first career goal in a Husky uniform DaGraca, “It’s an unbelievable feeling. My first goal for the best team in the country, it’s just unbelievable. My dream was to always for a big team like UConn. I love it.”
UConn (2-0-0), playing only its second game of the season and first since last Friday (1-0 win over St. Francis Brooklyn), showed a little rust but was patient and methodical before the offense founds its groove. The momentum finally began to shift as the half progressed with UConn's offense making its presence known taking a 9-2 edge on shots into the locker room at the half.
Turning up the heat
The UConn pressure began to take its toll on the Terriers as BU's chippy play and frustration levels rose. By the time the contest was over Boston University had been issued two red cards, including Gilbert who leveled Cyle Larin just outside the penalty box on a breakaway with twenty minutes left and defender Kelvin Madzongwe on a takedown of Diouf five minutes later. Despite the two man advantage the insurance goal still eluded Ray Reid’s Huskies.
On not being able to score on the two man advantage Reid said, “To honest with you it got to be too easy. We would have been better off if it had been ten on nine. Sometimes it gets too easy and you take your foot off the gas.”
UConn outshot the Terriers 19-8
The women host former Big East rival Syracuse (4-1-0) this afternoon at 1 p.m. at the Joseph J Morrone Stadium in Storrs. The women dropped a 3-2 decision to the Orange last September in New York.
The men host the 17th ranked Huskies of Washington Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in Storrs. UConn edged Washington, 1-0, in overtime at home a year ago.